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Marvel: Ultimate Alliance [WII]

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance Preview

"We ally ourselves with the Wii and take on all comers in Activision and Vicarious Visions' upcoming title."

We've been anxious to try out the Wii version of Marvel Ultimate Alliance, an action role-playing game that throws everyone and their mother into one big fight to save the world from certain doom. The game is the evolution of the winning formula of character progression and item collection that's been used in the X-Men Legends games, and it tosses in some nice customization touches, as well. Though development of the lead console versions of the game is handled by Raven Software, New Jersey-based Vicarious Visions is handling the Wii dev chores. The veteran developer has proven itself to be more than just a port house and has consistently delivered some smart conversions and expansions of titles on other platforms. Given the developer's ambitious nature and the potential afforded by the Wii controller, the marriage of the two has appeared destined to pay off big. We recently had the chance to log a healthy chunk of time with the upcoming Wii game and got a good feel for the core game, as well as VV's slick Wii twist.

Get ready to battle the forces of evil in Marvel Ultimate Alliance for Nintendo Wii.

Get ready to battle the forces of evil in Marvel Ultimate Alliance for Nintendo Wii.

We played through a sampling of levels taken from different parts of the game that let us check out several different members of the game's cast of 20-plus playable characters. For those keeping a running tally of the combatants, we tried Iceman, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, Thor, Thing, Iron Man, Mr. Fantastic, Wolverine, Electra, Ghost Rider, Dr. Strange, the Silver Surfer, Captain America, and Spider-Man. The heroes featured their own unique moves and abilities that, if used with the right combo of heroes, can wind up being excellent complements to one another.

We checked out a whopping 10 levels and saw a number of the eclectic cast of characters being assembled for the adventure, which ran the gamut from playable to cameos. The first two levels we tried were on the now-familiar S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier level at the start of the game and found Cap, Spidey, Thor, and Wolvie responding to an SOS from Nick Fury.

The first level culminated with us taking on the Scorpion, while the second part of the helicarrier level pitted us against Bullseye. There wasn't much new from a content standpoint in the level, which we've played a few times now on the other consoles the game is appearing on. The big difference from our previous play-throughs is that the level now contains a number of small polish tweaks that display hints on how to play.

The next set of three levels we tried found our superteam going proactive and trying to take out the villainous Mandarin. As a card-carrying villain, he seems like a logical choice to be a part of Dr. Doom's newly reformed Masters of Evil, who are set up as the game's protagonists in the helicarrier level. The levels offer a change of pace from the airborne madness of a helicarrier under siege by villainous robots and find you exploring the Mandarin's fortress and dealing with his henchman, many of which are animated statues. The first Mandarin level led to a confrontation with the Grey Gargoyle, a lesser-known villain in the Marvel universe who's a pain thanks to his ability to temporarily turn you to stone. The second Mandarin level had us crossing paths with everyone's favorite sorcerer supreme Dr. Strange, who we unlocked as a playable character. The last Mandarin level had us facing off against the villain himself, who wielded his trademark rings, each of which has a unique and annoying ability to cause trouble.

The cast of characters in Marvel Ultimate Alliance will feature heroes from all corners of the Marvel universe.

The cast of characters in Marvel Ultimate Alliance will feature heroes from all corners of the Marvel universe.

The Mandarin's Asian-themed castle was a sharp contrast to the next two areas we played in the always-troublesome Arcade's Murderworld. For those unfamiliar with the red-haired villain, Arcade is a hired hit man who used a lethally booby-trapped amusement park, the aforementioned Murderworld, to take out his targets. The levels featured a whimsical but deadly tone to them, as circus-themed foes came out of the woodwork to try and kill our heroes. The first part of the level ends with MUA's quartet of heroes attempting to free the X-Men's Jean Grey from Arcade's control (and features a very awesome retro game we'll share in a bit), which lead's to a fight against the powerful psychic. The second Murderworld level takes place in one of Arcade's signature Murderworld locales--a giant pinball machine--and features the Shocker and Rhino as your adversaries.

The next level offered a decidedly satanic change of pace from the previous levels we tried, thanks to a run through Mephisto's realm. For those unfamiliar with the big M, Mephisto is an entity of pure evil, often mistaken for the devil, who wields vast mystical powers and has his very own realm chock-full of slaves. The evil creature's mystical dimension was heavy on the supernatural and ended with you choosing to free Nightcrawler or Jean Grey (who's apparently all "damsel in distress" in MUA).

Posted on Oct 05, 2006